If only they would fall down a hill…
Adam Sandler’s newest comedy, Jack and Jill, is about a self-centred, somewhat-successful maker of commercials named Jack and his awkward, annoying twin sister Jill (both played by Adam Sandler). The story commences when Jill goes to visit her brother for Thanksgiving and ends up staying for longer than anticipated. Jack also has a family that exists in the background, including a wife (Katie Holmes) and two children, each with random, never fully developed idiosyncrasies.
Now, after the spectacular failure that was Eddie Murphy’s Norbit, I had hoped that the entire man dressing in drag route to comedy was over. This isn’t a new idea, as we see it every Halloween when at least one burly man with a beard puts on a dress in a vain attempt to get a laugh. At best one can hope for a strained chuckle and some inappropriate comments, and at worst one sees what can only be described as sexual harassment. It never has been, and never will be, a good basis for a movie.
A large problem is that a great number of people, myself included, genuinely like Adam Sandler. Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore are staples in many a movie collection. Even his more recent films, such as 50 First Dates and Punch Drunk Love, have a certain charm to them despite taking a few darker turns. For the two hours of this movie, however, I was filled with an extreme hatred. Every moment Sandler is on screen he is either playing a self-centred idiot who tells seriously unfunny jokes, or the incredibly annoying sister who is supposed to be a joke of some sort. Even worse are the moments when both are on the screen, as the unexplained, irrational hatred that Jack has for Jill quickly becomes grating. Yes, we get that she’s annoying and an embarrassment. Somehow Jack is even worse, as he is an annoying embarrassment who also happens to be a bit of an asshole.
In theory, the movie is a comedy, but not one moment is genuinely funny. Instead, the film finds a way to be offensive to everyone. It portrays Jews as seeing antisemitism in every offhand comment. Atheists are idiots who deserve to be attacked. Hispanics are all named some variation of Juan or Jose (or, even if they aren’t, their real names really aren’t all that important) and think being knocked unconscious is cured through liberal use of jalapeno peppers. Women are either skanks (David Spade’s character especially), gentle mothers who want everyone to get along (Katie Holmes) or masculine and passive aggressive. The film tries to make jokes about these cliches, but each is so poorly handled that at their best they are still more awkward than funny. Somewhere around the third fart joke, one gets the mental image of Adam Sandler crying and begging for at least one cheap laugh.
Speaking of David Spade, the number of celebrities in this movie was mind-boggling, and almost all of their roles were terrible. As mentioned, David Spade comes on screen as a scantily-clad, irrational bitch. Al Pacino makes a mockery of himself, acting as a crazy individual who believes his only way of finding himself is through Jill. Regis Philbin complains about getting upstaged by a taking stomache, and Johnny Depp is wearing a Justin Beiber t-shirt and looking as though that truly is the last place he wants to be. Watching the movie, I could only wonder at what horrible dark secrets Adam Sandler was holding over them to make them show their faces in this travesty of a film.
All of the previous points refer to the “comedic” section of the film. Adam Sandler movies (and comedies in general) do, however, follow a bit of a formula in that they often take a dark turn just after the ¾ mark. This is often the point where a dark secret or past is revealed, or something horrible happens that allows us to sympathize with the main character. In Jack and Jill, this is handled terribly. The big dramatic moment occurs when Jack, dressed up as Jill, is on a date with Al Pacino and finally has a great revelation about what a self-centred asshole he has always been. The scene might have had a bit more impact if it didn’t consist of Sandler-as-Jill and Sandler-as-Jack-pretending-to-be-Jill having a discussion followed by crazy Al Pacino talking about all the things he loves about Jill (who he has met a total of twice).
Jack and Jill has no redeemable features. Some films are so bad they come out the other side of funny, but this movie is just so bad it’s sad. A great deal was offensive, not one person really looked to be there by choice, and every scene was simply painful to watch. As Al Pacino himself says at the end “Burn this. No one should ever watch it.”